There is no better time to strengthen the relations between South Africa and Switzerland than now. This was the opinion of South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, at the South Africa-Switzerland Business Forum, also attended by his counterpart, Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, and busines speople from both countries in Cape Town yesterday.
“South Africa is a key investment destination, as it is part of the next big story, the African Continent. Africa is where everybody has to be.
“South Africa’s economy is mining-based, and Switzerland can become a key partner in realising our industrialisation goals and expanding the country's capacity to produce secondary goods and services in the future,” according to Davies.
He said Switzerland remains South Africa's major trading and investment partner in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
“In 2012, Switzerland ranked as the first largest export destination for South Africa in the European Free Trade Association and 12th in world. In terms of imports, Switzerland remains South Africa’s leading trading partner in EFTA and ranked 28th in 2012 as source of imports in the world after Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Spain (9th in Europe). While on the African Continent South Africa is Switzerland's major trading partner both in terms of exports and imports,” added Davies.
Schneider-Ammann said at the event that Switzerland regards South Africa as a strategic partner. He added that more than 100 Swiss companies are operating in South Africa in a broad range of sectors, creating about 35 000 jobs. “Switzerland is committed to working with South Africa, especially in education, research and innovation,’’ added Schneider-Ammann.
The event also saw South Africa and Switzerland signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation and trade promotion.
Total exports from South Africa to Switzerland increased from R12.4 billion in 2008 to R21.3 billion in 2009, a whopping 72%.
The bilateral trade and investment relations between South Africa and Switzerland are currently driven by the South Africa – Switzerland Joint Economic Committee (JEC). The main purpose of the SA-Swiss JEC is to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. The previous session of the SA-Switzerland Joint Economic Committee was held on the 21st June 2012, in Zurich, Switzerland.